Christian Dior silk evening coat, late 1960s-early 1970s
From its inception, the House of Dior has been an enduring icon of haute couture, as was the House of Worth in the 19th century. These are the only two couture houses whose image became synonymous with high style fashion, each in its time.
When the talented Marc Bohan took over as head designer in 1960, he continued the Dior tradition of glamorous, luxe design. The magnificent evening coat is an exemplar of the Bohan style. The lavish use of sumptuous fabrics is forever identified with Christian Dior's breakthrough New Look of 1947.
The coat is fashioned from heavy black silk taffeta overlaid with sheer black silk. Both layers are printed with white polka dots. The exceptionally long skirt, which forms a train in back, is perfect for making a grand entrance. The coat intimates the self-assurance of the lady who can afford to be "casual" with a Dior.
On the practical side, the skirt has a fabric loop at the back hem to lift it for walking. The loop recalls the 18th century Polonaise style. The latter was worn by a great lady. Likewise, our evening coat is meant for a prominent hostess or socialite.
Here is a coat worthy of an exceptional woman, a hostess who unites graceful repose and unaffected dignity with the most amiable regard for others. You will wear the spectacular coat once or twice in a year. This is a grand coat for a grand occasion.
The skirt is styled with three panels daringly slit to the waist, showing a glimpse of the leg. The billowing sleeves and voluminous skirt are vividly contrasted with the wide obi-style sash, wrapped tightly around the waist. The coat front has two diagonal inset pockets.
Marc Bohan was often personally involved in the fittings. Actress Leslie Caron (Gigi) recalled that "Dior and Marc Bohan would ask you, 'What are you going to be doing in this outfit? Do you need to run or dance? Let's not make it tight at the seat; it wrinkles when you stand. This length is good for you, that one is not.'"
The evening coat typifies the flattering luxury so valued by Bohan's famous clients like Leslie Caron, Princess Grace, and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Bohan's perfectionist zeal, laserlike attention to detail, and impeccable fashion sense made him a worth successor to Christian Dior.
The picture below (courtesy of Tramonto) shows Marc Bohan at the top of his form with his models just before the 1969 runway show. Bohan's glamorous evening coat is very much in the Christian Dior tradition: unabashed glamour. As Dior put it, "Fashion comes from a dream, and the dream is an escape from reality." Bohan infused classic Dior styles with modernity to produce wearable, elegant clothes.
There are two labels inside the coat. One reads "Christian Dior/Paris." The other is a tape label with "C 44 Sonia Cole" written in ink.
The condition is excellent.
The loosely structured coat fits a range of sizes.
It measures: 36"-40" bust, 23" sleeve length, and 63" from shoulder to hem.